From halal curries to murtabak, Bangkok offers hearty Ramadan fare

Thai Muslims buy food items at a market during the fasting month of Ramadan in Narathiwat, southern Thailand. (AFP/File Photo)Next

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April 15, 2022

  • Thailand’s capital is often rated as having the finest street food in the world
  • In Buddhist-majority Thailand, only around five percent of the population is Muslim

BANGKOK: Bangkok, a city famous for its street cuisine, has a special attraction during the month of Ramadan every year: A halal food market. Visitors come from all around to enjoy varieties of traditional Thai Muslim delicacies.

The Thai capital is often rated as having the finest street food in the world. It has long attracted migrants from across Asia, so the street food is influenced by numerous cuisines.

There are tens of thousands of street-food vendors in Bangkok. During Ramadan, those in Bangkok’s Ratchathewi area gain special prominence among foodies during the evenings, selling rotis, curries, noodles, skewered and grilled meat with peanut sauce, and murtabak — fried crepes stuffed with egg, chives, and minced meat.

Islam is a minority faith in Buddhist-majority Thailand, where only around five percent of the population is Muslim. They reside mainly in the country’s four southernmost provinces: Satun, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

In Ratchathewi, one alley, Petchabury 7, is the center of Ramadan fare, where faithful visitors, including 60-year-old Lek, have been coming for years in the Holy Month.

“I don’t live in this area,” Lek told Arab News as she ordered Pattani-style chicken curry. “But I come to this street market during Ramadan every year to try the food.”

One of the most popular spots is TeHo, a Pattani shop right at the entrance of the alley. It is popular with young people who hang out there eating roti and drinking tea until the early hours of the morning. During Ramadan, the shop sells hundreds rotis every day.

“My husband was from Pattani and he told me that in the deep southern provinces, this kind of small shop — selling roti and hot tea or coffee — is on every corner,” Kulchalee Na Pattani, who has been running TeHo for 14 years, told Arab News. “There were no shops like this around here until he started one.”

Besides various sweet and savory types of roti, TeHo also sells halal beef and chicken curry, and chicken and beef murtabak. A full meal will cost no more than $3.

For Nisrin Chekoh, a 24-year-old student visiting TeHo with a friend, it is not only about the food but also the ambience.

“Roti is (easy) to find in Bangkok, but I like the atmosphere of this shop where you can sit for a long time and chill. And it opens at night so it’s a good place to hang out,” she said. “My favorite dish is roti bomb — fried roti with a lot of butter — and my friend likes roti with cheese.”

Although most tables along the alley were full, vendors say there are still fewer visitors than before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“This street-food market used to be very busy, with more vendors and visitors coming to buy food,” Kusuma Poomdokmai, who sells halal deserts, said. “This market is on only during Ramadan. There is a lot of halal food that is not very common to find.”

But as we are only at the halfway point of Ramadan, Poomdokmai added that she is hopeful that sales will continue to gain momentum.


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